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Category Archives for: Philosophy of Technology

Philosophy of Music

09 June 2016

[this is a drafty mess transcribed from paper. Really need some kind of bluetooth flexible keyboard to use with a smartphone…]

page 0

[todo: Taiwan culture and streets, clingy relationships, social world of locality]

page 1

I finally got some cheap, yet amazingly good, headphones. Listening to them reminds me of a past time of my life — programming for capital in VA [Virginia, USA], commuting to college, doing chore-like work at home (repetitive organizing on the computer); Now I’m able to see that the way I survived the suburbs is because I abused music.

Using technology is not normal. It is much slower to communicate through technology than it is to simply talk — within one’s head, out loud, or through writing. Technology distracts thinking and communicating.
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Music interrupts, blocks thinking and communicating. To blog, for instance, I may need to connect to the internet, charge my digital device. Looking at my blog may distract further, directing thought toward design — trying to make it more readable, increasing interaction. It [technology] distracts from the content, from the act of writing, the act of thought expression.
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Music blocks thinking. It’s the only way to act, it seems. To take an action that is not communication nor survival, one must drug onelsef with more ot push one’s body to act.

With more, people organize, over-organize, over-work, over-accumulate capital. They forget to talk. Asia talks; America works. In Taiwan, reading is common (though likely passively), a common way to communicate. In America, new arts are created to communicate which all require more work (game-making!) to communicate the message compared to human language. Why not just communicate via human language? (Maybe music blocks people from expressing through human language.)
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It also may block thought of the environment. It helps people focus on something — media, art, material, “work”, but rarely does it lead to talking to people nearby, to thinking about how the environemnt came to be, history, others, social problems, etc. It is a mind-altering drug, one that inhibits verbal expression.

page 2?

I believe I was at a point of only acting to communicate. I didn’t do anything else. I’d talk to the people around me, then, to books, then run out of energy and collapse, partly because my body had become fail, partly because capitalism doesn’t allow that kind of life of mind. It prefers a life of bodily action, of movement of commodity. The movement of commodity is the opposite of the movement of meanings (communication). It is detestable, a chore, it provokes humans to abuse music; whereas communication is enjoyable, not requiring music.

If joy comes from the creation of communication, then the creation of commoidity requires a kind of drug to make-up for the lack of enjoyment. It is ideal to creat ecommodity whilst creating communicationl but that isn’t always possible (though, technology helps immensely here, with eBook listening, audio-recording, telephones, etc.). Eventually, either from habit of work, habit of listening to music, one nearly forgets to communicate. That’s frightening, because that’s the difference between a person who expresses and one that doesn’t, the difference between a free mind and a restricted mind. [A free person and restricted person {slave}?] America is full of restricted minds. Asia is full of free minds.

The West prioritizes media, the communication through mediums. The East prioritizes [direct] communication, even in it’s simply a conversation with a friend. There is much widsom in the people as opposed to media. It doesn’t distribute well, but it’s a healthy lifestyle. The West begins with (Plato and) Aristotle. The East relies on the oral world which retains the culture. Culture is not distributed through media; It is through human interaction, direct communication. That is opposite of the culture industry of America. [todo: should continue*****].

[todo: epistemology of music]

[todo: action and music]

Without music I only act toward survival and communication — the socio-political expressions. Music allows me to live unsocially. It gives energy without people. I needed people during my time in Asia. I was dependent on people. I strived to do everything with people [todo: need anchor to Taiwan section]. I tried to socio-politically cooperate to strive toward ideals (civic, social, design). I didn’t work, I just communicated.

page 3?

America has been running on music at least since slaves worked to their own creative folk tunes; Now, white brokers on Wall street work while listening to hip-hop. Maybe the creation of music is skewed toward the working class because they need it to get by, influenced and inspired by it, mimic the creation of it, listening to raps about wage-labor whilst laboring for wage. I sure did — through game, film, and fine arts / new media. That expression, anti-capitalism in America is perhaps the strongest emotion in American culture, perhaps even more-so than love (all forms of it). And it [the creation capitalism-influenced art] probably has not been broken since capitalism has existed.

last page?

That is why the East lacks art through mediums — most is expression through oral communication, then to written communication, then lastly to other mediums. The history of the complex part of Eastern art is perhaps solely literature. It is because America listens to music that they [tend to] communicate through mediums.

digression: How is communication prioritized? I guess that’s left to attention. Communication is just information.

empty page with title

[todo: American culture and music -> media]

an older page

Music is awful. It blocks thinking. Gives energy, for physical exercise, but actions are not thought of, just taken. It blocks thinking before taking an action. The decision-making phase is skipped. Is this action? Is this life? How can such mindlessness be? How wild the affects of music are.

Leave a comment | Categories: Action, Applied Philosophy, Communication, Drafts, Experience, Filmmaking, Health, Humanities, Media, Metaphysics, Music, Personal, Philosophy, Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Music, Philosophy of Technology, Semiotics, Social Philosophy, temp, Thoughts

Silicon Valley and Capitalism

18 November 2015

This is part of a series of thoughts that are thematically bounded by a criticism of capitalism, communication, and rationality.

An old thought that’s come up several times invoked by Taiwan’s quick adaptation and prevalent use of AirBnB and Uber, then to an old thought about Yelp, then to eBay.

Let’s start with Uber. Uber I’m told is a peer-to-peer car sharing service. The first problem is that few people should have a car. If one lives in an area that has sufficient public transportation, or a bike-able area, a car has little use. If not, one should move closer, or talk about updating the urban plan. It’s good to make use of old technology [cars], but one should be aware of the work that goes into creating a car and getting oil.

The next problem, perhaps the greatest, seems to occur in several things that come out of Silicon Valley. Uber and AirBnB are for-profit. Sharing in my mind is not for-profit, and the word sharing economy is an oxymoron. This changes the behavior of people as capitalism does, often into something quite disgusting. There is a difference between the person who uses Uber and the person who picks up hitchhikers; The same difference exists between AirBnB and CouchSurfing. The main reason someone is using these services as a provider or host is because they want the money, and it doesn’t require much work for it.

In order for a transaction to occur one person must have an asset or property to rent out. One person accumulated enough capital to own a superfluous asset and is now using it to rent it out for short periods of time. Without a convenient service, it is likely seen as waste of time for the owner, but enabled by convenience and motivated by money, it’s easier to be nudged to make this the decision of using these kinds of services.

[The services enable people to make a decision they aware of themselves: to hitch or to exchange hospitality. If people though of these ideas before they wouldn’t have used taxis or motels in the past.]

A lot of these criticisms started with my experience with Yelp when I lived in San Francisco. I used it for anything: food, grocery stores, laundry, doctors, real futons, supply stores, etc, but mostly, food by searching nearby, or planning trips while exploring neighborhoods to live in. It was good to leave honest reviews, never really giving anything a two or below knowing that people care, or that it can ruin a business. But it was apparent that the Yelp caused people to focus their awareness to the places listed on the website, and further narrowed to those with good reviews, increasing the business of already popular places. Instead of doing everything within one’s locale, physically exploring nearby locations, meeting and talking to neighbors, one uses information then makes the decision. The area I chose to live was so convenient that I’d end up doing any kind of business on within a few blocks radius. I’d often just write reviews for them, which often had no reviews or were not eve listed. Other times, I’d go exploring the city, have an experience with a place, maybe a homely Filipino restaurant or the neighborhood it was in, and write about that. My hope was to bring awareness of these other places, usually local or in working class ethnic enclaves. It probably didn’t work.

The effects of eBay is wild, and this thought predates Yelp. Nearly everything I’ve ordered came from China or Taiwan. eBay facilitates global capitalism. People in less developed countries are producing higher quantity and quality and more customized things, somehow at a cheaper price, although it is coming from the other side of the world. Competition is okay, but for people to shift their actions toward producing items for the conspicuous consumption of people from more developed countries is not. There’s a lot of work to be done in China in regards to basic development needs, yet it must sell useless commodities to get the money in order to develop itself? Capitalism makes my mother fuckin’ mind melt.

The pro of all of these is that it provides a service of getting something (hospitality, car ride, products, information) desired conveniently, at one’s personal computer. The con, usually limited to those who have enough money to use these services, is that people are dulled into buying things instead of interacting with the people around, using other forms of transportation, creatively using the material around them, and living in reality.

It seems the only place that has even checked what comes in the country, careful of it’s effects, is Berlin, Germany, whom banned Uber and is cracking down on house rentals, which is fitting as I read this short introduction to the very careful Habermas.

I often think of Silicon Valley (and unfortunately now, San Francisco) as a kind of social zero entropy. There are some somewhat good intentions in there, but it’s only valuable to the class that created it: themselves. [It’s like the failure of the bourgeois public sphere trying to govern all people.] The people lack experience outside of the area, and even much of the area they live in (Oakland, ethnic enclaves), to make any decisions toward anything other than making the machine that is the Valley more efficient. Silicon Valley is in a cycle that creates things to make itself more efficient — materially through industry and socially through industrious work.

Therefore, the products created by this machine are meant for the culture of the machine. Unfortunately, the industry has physically manufactured devices for a global scale, and then created software for those devices, without thought or care of the effects to other cultures. Now, the software affects the behaviors of people around the world. [Hmm, maybe not much argument here, just normal global capitalism effects]

In Taipei alone, non-Taiwanese people use Tinder to get a quick fuck, Taiwanese people use a local Tinder clone to actually meet people, AirBnB (and other hostel websites) to convert apartments into dormitory hostels for tourists, Uber to also rakes profit from tourists, and Taobao (China’s eBay) to obtain items at an even lower price.

Instead of healthy neighborhoods and communities in which resources and services are shared through local relationships, the community is online with people willing to sell or rent resources and services. Instead of genuine experiences such ask asking people for a night, a ride, walking around the streets, or even just talking and meeting people nearby, the Valley’s culture first looks at information to make decisions, then acts upon it in reality. As a result, such decisions are always exclusive. There is no interaction with reality which provides a random set information [, which is then filtered by the mind’s awareness] to inform the decision.

Leave a comment | Categories: Critical Theory, Ethics, Humanities, Philosophy, Philosophy of Technology, Rationality

Reading and Listening to eBooks

26 November 2014

After listening to a great lecture series on philosophy from The Great Courses, I thought listening to lectures and books (with the addition of films and games) surely replaced the ancient knowledge transmission through reading. And for the most part, I agree.

But there are still quite a few books I’d like to read, and in the Information Age, it seems the methods to get them are contrarily not so simple. Furthermore if one wanted to do research, then going to the library or building a personal one still seems the best way. Skimming through a bunch of eBooks sucks.

Recently, I bought a Kindle. It’s beautiful, but just too slow, I was unable to gauge the content of a books. It may be okay for literature, where one is likely to read the thing entirely, but for knowledge, research, or just general playful reading, it’s useless. I returned it, and instead ordered an iPad Mini.

The Kindle app for iOS is free, but the library can be expensive, and sometimes, the format is inferior to the actual book, missing pictures or linkable items.

Then I read somewhere that some eBook readers can link to Dropbox to read eBooks. Great! Then I found Voice Dream Reader. It is the best application I’ve found to read AND listen to eBooks. The application excels because both options are available simultaneously; The text being read is highlighted, and one can start and stop audio at any point in the text. This makes it superior to audiobooks, the Kindle, and real books. With audiobooks, one can’t gauge the contents, and skimming is fruitful, especially without any sort of markers (future feature of audio books?). Another great feat is that it keeps the original format and can convert the format on the fly to a more readable version similar to Kindle. The original formatting is nearly always superior, even if it doesn’t quite fit on the iPhone screen. The only time to use the readable version is for long-form reading, or passive reading of fiction. Lastly, it is superior to actual books because it offers the ability to provide audio, freeing the eyes.

The app has a slew of options and is quite customizable. It handles epub, PDF, and word documents (no Kindle formats though). The voice is pretty darn good, I feel happy at 250 to 300 words / minutes; Any slower and my mind wonders. There’s highlighting and notes, which is kind of a pain on iPhone because the text is so small, but perhaps better on iPad. Like the Kindle, one can highlight words and search it in a dictionary or wikipedia. It is indeed a dream. I can choose books from dropbox, skim through the original format like a Wikipedia article, begin listening to any part of it, or read it like a Kindle.

Though this is the best way I’ve found to read eBooks, I still find it inferior to a public or a personal library of books, but not by much. I used the Mac Kindle application to read The 21st Century Backpacker’s Bible because it was free on Kindle Unlimited (free for one month). I used Voice Dream Reader on iPhone to read some of Debt: The First 5000 years. I still haven’t received the iPad mini yet.

It’s still quite painful to find ePubs or PDFs. There a quite a bunch of online bookstores, free and not. Googling seems to be the best way to cover them all. Thankfully having access to Dropbox makes organization painless.

eBooks are important to me as I can’t have any books while traveling, they just weigh too much. Furthermore, from my experience in libraries and bookshops in Taipei, most selections are translated to Chinese. My goal was to devise a method of reading and listening while traveling, and it seems an eBook reader in conjunction of other medias, is the way to go.

Leave a comment | Categories: Literature, Media, Philosophy of Technology, Travel

Growing Up with Technology

07 November 2014

In the end of a blog about information and mediums, I said:

The more sensual the unknown product the more pleasurable it becomes and the faster data is transmitted.

With that known, and according to my history [todo: need to link blog], it is natural to choose the more pleasurable art objects or experience.

I naturally chose games, then films, then new media, then books, in that order. Of course I used Wikipedia to follow up, and dialog with friends. It’s interesting to see that books came last in my education; It is my last choice in gaining information.

If one want to learn about ethics, watch a film rather than read a book. If ones wants to learn about strategy, play a strategy game rather than watch a film. If one wants to learn how to make something, make it rather than observing others make things.

If one of the goals of education is to make subjects interesting, then using newer art mediums is a natural method, especially for a self-education where experience is impossible (stuck in a house) or just really inconvenient.

A lot of my history was just random play (hedonism?) rather than a directed curriculum, but luckily, there’s enough content in the world where one can learn and live via newer art objects and experience while living a surprisingly pleasurable life.

Leave a comment | Categories: Epistemology, Essays, Literature, Media, Philosophy of Education, Philosophy of Technology

Books, Passive Media, and The Internet

06 May 2014

[Old draft, posting anyway. I think at the time I was just too adhd to consume any long form media. Contrarily, I still feel books are quite a slow method of transmitting knowledge. I’ve now fit books alongside more modern forms of media.]

A continuation of the thoughts from

It’s been a long time since I’ve explored via traditional media, as opposed to empiricism (travel travel travel, and interactive art!).

A certain Peter told me about www.thegreatcourses.com/ (piratebay has it).

I always feel that going through anything historical is a waste of time (adhd adhd adhd, and creativity!), but there’s definitely some good things in there.

I enjoy the great ideas in philosophy lectures, which I apparently severely lack as a result of attending a non-liberal arts college. There’s 60 of them. I especially liked these: Wittgenstein (soo goood, probably because most modern), Alan Turing, Aesthetics, Theory of Good Life, Descartes, and Newton. I’ve skimmed through most of the rest.

It’s still a very passive thing, that requires a very passive time in life to actually listen to (programming indoors). You really have to select a narrow selection of interest to make any use of it. But it’s far more thought-provoking than, say, music. And more concise than most books (even with the convenience of audiobooks — I tried Guns, Germs, and Steel with interest and intent and still struggled), which allows more time to think. Still, it’s not up to date with any modern theories; For that of course, there’s Wikipedia (can transform text to audio!).

Which brings a question: If you work a lone job indoors, say an office environment, without cool people to be distracted by, what do you do with that free time, how and what do you explore? Or did you end up finding a creative outlet indoors?

tldr: books suck.

The conversation on Facebook that brought about this thought:

A person way smarter than me said:
History is one of the best fields to study if you want to figure out long-term
trends in human consciousness. I would argue that history is very interesting, but has problems with presentation. Case in point, I used to not be at all interested in the time period between the industrial revolution in american history, but now see it as fundamental in establishing movements in the Christian right and eventually leading to the moral majority and ultimately Sarah Palin. (This is an idea that’s far too big to contain here, obviously. I should probably write a book!) That’s just one aspect of the cultural shift in America as well. When someone says they think history is boring, I believe they aren’t reading it correctly, and are probably basing their opinion on the way history was taught to them, rather than how history actually is.

Guns Germs and Steel’s author has a long-winded style; he likes to cover all the bases, all the time. Don’t judge non-fiction by that.

Also, books are awesome. You engage differently when faced with long-form text than you do when you are listening. One isn’t better than the other because they are different scales.

I’d be interested in the “modern theories” you allude to that Wikipedia fulfills, but Hofstadter doesn’t.

I naively replied:
So much to learn from Sir Ben.

It’s probably my fault for failing to share my thoughts on reading, which even then should result in writing out thoughts. Perhaps it’s because it’s not as sensational as other media. It usually just feels goalless, where does reading huge texts lead to?

Oh god American history was always the least interesting of all histories to me, hah. Probably because it’s span is short relative to other countries.

Hahahah The Formation of Sarah Palin. That would be one disgusting yet interesting book.

Guns, Germs, and Steel is quite alright, mostly because I’m really interested in it’s huge scope of anthropology. I’ll probably regain the interest when I’m interested in the subject again, or doing something related to it.

Listening vs reading. That’ll require some research.

I meant The Great Courses doesn’t have much modern material, Hofstadter I haven’t read yet. Modern theories, I guess I mean philosophy and research of life-related things: happiness, mental illness (and it’s biology — esp. dopamine-related ones), learning, playing, etc. Hence my recent urge for non-fiction books.

It just seems to be so much more fun and efficient exploring Wikipedia, and a more active (I have more choice than just skimming) way of learning, and finding interesting, specific subjects. I think it would be very easy to have a Wikipedia session on American History, hop around links, and figure out The Formation of Sarah Palin. All of that in a more efficient and fun manner than fat books in a library on American History.

THE INTERNETS!

I guess the target books are: non-narrative, non-fiction, broad in scope, like Guns.., Godel…, Thinking Fast and Slow, Antifragile, etc. Not the most playful things, haha.

Leave a comment | Categories: Communication, Humanities, Literature, Media, New Media, Philosophy, Philosophy of Education, Philosophy of Technology

Life and Work

11 September 2013

Another thought quickly jotted down after leaving early from a social outing.

Life and work. Living and working. It’s something I feel I’ve been striving for my entire life.

I feel that the related term, work-life balance, suggests that they are separate entities.

Work–life balance is a concept including proper prioritizing between “work” (career and ambition) and “lifestyle” (health, pleasure, leisure, family and spiritual development/meditation).
Wikipedia, Work-Life Balance

But I disagree. They shouldn’t be treated as so.

Paul Krassner remarked that anthropologists, use a definition of happiness that is to have as little separation as possible “between your work and your play.

Some people can go to an office, work, then enjoy life after work, never thinking about work. The times are separated in their schedules. This leads to a work hard play hard lifestyle. I never fit it. I’m constantly trying to fit work in life. I have no set hours or routine. I just live. Maybe I work 12 hours a day working a game I’m motivated to create or 10 hours volunteering at a school, or maybe I work 3 hours a day, spending most of the time on, well, life. Life doesn’t have a schedule.

After telling a friend that I felt that I’ve lived for several years while travelling, she responded, “You feel it was long because you experienced so much.” It’s true. You have to constantly experience new things. You have to keep living, even while working.

If the work doesn’t provide enough new experiences, then you’re likely going to quit. You have to create new experiences at the workplace. Be social and creative, yet work hard, simultaneously.

I found it quite difficult to have new social experiences in a specific type of work: developing software on a computer. In computer programming, you are facing a computer. You’re sight is focused on an operating system. You rely on audio for new experience, especially when inside a building. When I was programming, I spent most of the time in public places: in libraries, outside, in a cafe, on a train, in a hostel, places after meeting someone or attending an event. These tend to be the best workplaces because they have the most amount of life. Still, it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t experiencing enough life. I filled the void with films, consuming as fast as possible between work. It was much better than an office, but still not enough. There wasn’t enough face-to-face social time. I failed to balance work-life.

I imagine it’s best to have a backup workplace where there will always be friends or family there. Home with the kids, a co-working studio. Then one can work from anywhere, mixing life and work freely, but having a guaranteed place to come back to, so one doesn’t have to hunt for cafes at night or on rainy days, and one doesn’t have to be alone.

It’s ironic that computers, technology, a thing that made communication easy, lead to a poor social life.

I always juggle my two ambitions: game and film. I like games as an emerging art medium, but I feel the process of making games, programming, makes maintaining a good social life difficult, especially compared to the process of making films.

Or, more likely the case, I suck at balancing life and work.

Leave a comment | Categories: Life, Personal, Philosophy of Technology

Life and Technology

30 July 2013

Humans have fundamental human needs. People in undeveloped countries live the same as the people in developed countries do, the only difference is the environment, including money, and with money comes the prevalence of technology.

Technology reduces and sometimes entirely replaces work in developed countries. Touting is replaced by internet and television advertisements. Launderers are replaced by laundry machines. Convenience stores replaced by vending machines. The person on the bus who takes your money and yells the bus’s destination is replaced by a transportation card system and electronic marquee. Furthermore, buses and bus drivers are replaced by a metro station with even more electronic stuff. Perhaps transportation will be replaced by teleporters or apparition.

The reduction of work saves people time and energy. That’s great, but technology reduces more than just work, it reduces the quality of communication. Talking face-to-face is replaced by phone calls. Phone calls replaced by e-mails and instant messaging. E-mails and instant messaging combined with other mediums to create Facebook. The method of communication requiring less and less energy. Communication time increases at the cost of quality.

Quality time. The time you help your mother cool a meal. The time you play games with your kids. The time you ask your siblings how they are doing.

Many middle and upper class jobs exist in the confines of an office. They spend 30 hours or more on computers at their job. They use their smartphones on the subway to either play no-brainer games, check e-mails thoughtlessly, or check Facebook. At home, they watch TV or use their computer to check Facebook. Sometimes, people post things found on the internet on Facebook!

In this white collar life, I believe intelligent stimulation does occur, or else the job turnover would be higher. It’s even possible to live a very stimulating life. One can consume fine arts, create a complex computer application at their job, share narrow interests with a narrow crowd (SF jab?). It’s the social stimulation that is sacrificed. Many of the fundamental human needs are related to communication. Quality time is sacrificed.

Along with quality communication with people, quality time spent alone is sacrificed. Sunlight, nature, space, allowing one to think freely. This is also reduced in the white collar life.

The allocation of time in one’s life, the constant valuation, the balancing of life is my greatest problem.

I haven’t written a blog for quite some time because I’ve been living in South Asian countries, communicating to the people around me, without technology. On my first day in Seoul, a highly developed country, I already feel lonely enough to write this blog post (Seoul deserves a post of it’s own).

Of course, there are pros in communication. People share specific interests: online communities. People around the world share knowledge: Wikipedia. Friends and family can see your recent photos and major events on Facebook. It requires attention to to solely use technology for functional purposes, but it’s possible. One can solve nearly every problem leveraging the internet, but there are few problems that can only be solved without it.

Note and Disclaimer:
After middle school, I spent a lot of time on the computer. I took two office jobs as a programmer. After that I began creating physically social games. Then I travelled Asia. There’s some personal angst in here, especially related to my current travel move to Seoul.

Leave a comment | Categories: Life, Personal, Philosophy of Technology